By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of 16-year-old gymnast Gabby Douglas who helped bring home gold for the Women’s Gymnastics Team during this year’s Olympic Games in London. Gabby is the first African-American to achieve the humbling honor. But, at a time when everyone should be giving only positive feedback, there are some who would rather pick a fight.
Like many African-American girls and women, Gabby wears her hair in a natural style. A natural style for an African-American female means the texture of her hair is not altered by chemicals to straighten the hair and rid the hair of its natural curls and kinks. Though there are more and more African-American females who are accepting and embracing the “nappy” hair that God gave them, some still see it as an unusual thing to do.
The straight hair/nappy hair battle has been going on forever. Spike Lee even worked the debate in to his classic School Daze. Chris Rock made an excellent documentary called Good Hair that covers just about everything you can think of concerning hair in the African-American community. For so long, it was perceived that the more silky and “white-like” your hair was the more beautiful you were. I have to admit that growing up I hated getting relaxers (also known as a perm) and press and curls to straighten out my kinks and curls, but I always loved the results because I thought I was more beautiful. I guess you could say I felt like the little girl in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. As I’ve gotten older, I now appreciate the way God made me and I realize that I’m beautiful no matter how my hair looks, but I’m still addicted to the “creamy crack” and hair weaves. I would like to go back natural one day; I’m just not ready yet. Going natural isn’t like buying a new shirt; it’s really a lifestyle change.
For the average woman of any race, how your hair looks can make or break your day and sometimes even your spirits. For Gabby Douglas, I’m sure her hair was the last thing she was worried about as she won her medals. So, what if she slapped some extra gel on her hair to contain her mane while she flipped her heart out. When some people are confronted with something that they don’t understand, they’re either going to talk about it or poke at it like it’s some alien life form. I do my best daily to instill within my daughter that a woman is beautiful whether her hair is relaxed, pressed, or natural. That way once she’s of age, she’ll be making her hair decisions for herself and no for society. I refuse to put a relaxer on her hair because she’s only five, but she does get simple press and curls and is allowed to wear cute braids with beads on the ends. Gabby Douglas won gold and set records, but all some can talk about is her “unusual” hair? Either get a life or get a cat because you obviously have nothing else better to do with yourself.